eBay Watch: Trust & Safety Changes Hands, Emerging Market News

| About: eBay Inc. (EBAY)
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A number of key developments to note for eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) watchers:

eBay's Trust & Safety Changes Hands

As reported by eBay's official blog, The Chatter, there has been an important executive change at eBay with Matt Halprin replacing Rob Chestnut as Senior Vice President of Trust & Safety. Given how critical and topical the issue of Trust & Safety is to eBay, I am surprised an announcement on Chestnut's replacement did not come earlier. That said, it is great to see eBay moving forward and assigning the role to an experienced and ambitious candidate. Congratulations Matt.

According to The Chatter, Halprin has been responsible for recent changes including Feedback 2.0 (Detailed Seller Ratings), Buyer Requirements, anti-counterfeiting initiatives, and recent efforts to raise seller standards to ensure great buying experiences. Halprin joined eBay in 2002 after spending 15 years at Boston Consulting Group.

Chestnut will assume a more consultant-like role and help EBAY's legal team on some special projects - presumably as he prepares for a new role beyond EBAY. Chestnut had joined EBAY in 1999 after spending 11 years as a federal prosecutor with the United States Attorney’s Office. He had now been on sabbatical for 4 months.

eBay in Latin America

I have been an avid follower of MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI) since before their IPO and have even blogged about them a couple of times. Trading at $44.59 per share, MercadoLibre is today worth approximately $2 billion, making eBay's 18.5% stake worth a notable $365 million. But an article yesterday in BusinessWeek reminded me that eBay still has important strategic decisions to make in Latin America.

The article, generally positive, completely fails to mention that eBay's non-compete clause lapsed only 1 year ago which means eBay could launch a second competing platform at any time. After all, despite a 25% stake (possibly now 30%) in Craigslist, eBay proceeded to successfully launch a second wholly-owned platform (Kijiji) in the US classifieds business. Could see eBay keep, or even increase, their minority investment in MercadoLibre while at the same time launching their own eBay-branded platform?

eBay in Southeast Asia

Speaking of eBay's presence in emerging markets, another focal point for growth is Southeast Asia. According to a recent BusinessWeek interview with San McDonagh, Director of eBay Southeast Asia, "we're very optimistic about the growth of the market, and it is not just Singapore but the Southeast Asia region."

eBay currently hosts fully-operational sites in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. Furthermore, as early as December 2007, and in partnership with online portal Sanook, eBay will launch a fully-operational co-branded site in Thailand. And as online payment restrictions ease in Vietnam and Indonesia, eBay will also look to launch localized trading sites.